Showing posts from February, 2016

Forgetful and free

"Winter kept us warm, covering Earth in forgetful snow... In the mountains, there you feel free" - T.S. Eliot When I started this blog, I wanted it to be equal parts science and travel, because the integration of the two practices is in my opinion the best part of my career. I travel to collect samples; I travel to go on cruises; I travel to scientific conferences and meetings. But sometimes I travel just for the sake of traveling - to get away from science, if you will - and that's okay too. This past week was my brother's mid-winter break from his university in Michigan. Looking to get out of the Midwest, he and my parents flew to Seattle. I drove up to meet them, and together we spent an incredible week in the Cascade Mountains, snowboarding and skiing to our hearts' content. I did not think about science this week. I didn't write any papers or analyze any data. I didn't even bring my laptop with me. Had I stayed in the mountains any longer

To create

“Put down everything that comes into your head and then you're a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff's worth, without pity, and destroy most of it." - Colette As most of you know, friends, I've been spending a lot of time lately writing my dissertation. I'm a fourth-year Ph.D. student, and that's just the way it is - after traveling the world and collecting all my data, it's time I sit down and actually write the thing. As you may imagine, the process is long. If there's one thing I've learned about the scientific process during my Ph.D., it's that science is a lot more creative than most people think. Sure, I have to analyze my data objectively in order to answer scientific questions, but there's a lot of thought that goes into choosing those questions. A single data set can show very different results, depending on the question the investigator asks of it. A single habitat or study organism can also yield very diffe


"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea." - Isak Dinesen I drove over the bridge and sped straight past Davey Jones' Locker. Instead of my usual right turn towards the lab, I continued straight - no work for me today.  I kept driving out Cape Arago Highway, past the A-frame houses and the old elementary school. I passed the sheep farm, the RV park, and the turn-off for Bastendorf Beach. I passed Sunset Bay, where surfers were emerging from their Subarus and VW busses. A bald man with his wetsuit half-on spread wax on his board; a dark green tattoo stretched across his ribs.   What I did this week. It is because of this... I passed retired couples walking their dogs along the coastal trail; I passed the barking sea lions on Simpson Reef. I kept driving until the crowds grew smaller and then disappeared, and finally I pulled into the U-shaped parking lot at Cape Arago's South Cove. I was alone.  Making my way down the gravel swi

Look at the stars: Part 2

"I lie under starlit sky And the seasons change in the blink of an eye I watch as the planets turn And the old stars die and the young stars burn" - "Lonesome Dreams" by Lord Huron Luciana and I on one of her last nights in Oregon. Dear friends, this week has been an eventful one at OIMB. We've had two birthdays and a farewell party, and there's a thesis defense coming up later this afternoon. The farewell was for Luciana, a post-doc and my labmate. She had been with us for 6 months, having received a grant from the government of her native Portugal to come do research abroad. She was with us on the Atlantis cruise this summer, and she spent her time in the lab afterward working up her samples. The great thing about deep-sea biology is that's it's a small community - small enough that I will most likely see Luciana again. We will run into each other at conferences, on research ships - it's almost certain our paths will cross in the f